Last week, we reported that Riot Games filed a motion to prevent two of its employees from launching lawsuits against the studio over its sexist company culture. However, that has backfired spectacularly, as the threat of a Riot Games employee walkout has forced them to come to the negotiating table.
An investigation by Kotaku a year ago brought Riot’s company culture into the public eye, with many accusations of sexism, discrimination, lewd jokes, and sexual harassment being seen as normal by the company. The culture eventually resulted in multiple lawsuits that last week Riot attempted to block.
Blocking the lawsuits would force the two plaintiffs into private arbitration without the luxury of a judge or jury. However, Riot’s attempt to keep out of legal trouble has had the opposite effect. Discussions and organization of a Riot Games employee walkout have been circulating, and it’s not just a recent development, either.
Discussion of a walkout at Riot Games has apparently been running ever since the first Kotaku article went up, albeit with varying levels of enthusiasm. Among other reasons, part of the cause for the walkout discussions is because despite their promises that Riot would change its culture to be more inclusive and more transparent, nothing of the sort ever appeared.
One of the most notorious was that the COO of Riot Games, who had helped to enable the toxic culture of the studio, had only been given two months of unpaid leave and sensitivity training, rather than either being fired or at least removed from his position.
Riot’s chief diversity officer has apparently been assigned to counter the Riot Games employee walkout by sending out a studio-wide message about asking for sessions on what to improve. This has, however, only frustrated Riot employees more, because it’s not necessarily telling them what will actually be getting changed.
Riot Games isn’t the first company to have to deal with an employee walkout, either. After the New York Times published an article about the toxicity of Google’s company culture, 3,000 Google employees staged a walkout.
While it’s good to know that a lot of Riot Games employees also don’t like the way the company culture is heading, only time will tell whether or not even the mere threat of a Riot Games employee walkout, and possibly other, more drastic measures, will turn out well.